Crusty, chewy, and holey, turkish bread is like a simpler version of ciabatta which you can easily make at home (I promise!). Don't get frightened by the mention of yeast, kneading, and rising in the recipe below. I will make everything crystal clear so that you too can make beautiful bread at home.
The instructions below look long, but that's only because I've tried to be as detailed as possible and give you all my tips for breadmaking (you lucky things, you).
Makes 2 loaves
- 4gms (1 1/2 t) dried yeast
- 360ml lukewarm water
- 500g (4 cups) 'high grade' flour
- 10g (1 3/4 t) salt
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- nigella seeds (I picked some up from Moore Wilsons a while ago) and flaky sea salt to top the bread
First measure out your water. The water you use should be lukewarm, or 'body temperature'. Test it by dipping a finger in before you add the yeast. If it feels too warm, it will kill the yeast. If it's too cold, the yeast won't be activated. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and give it one quick stir so that all the yeast is damp. This is what we call the 'slurry'. It will be a little lumpy, but don't worry. Set the mix aside for 10 minutes or so until it's a bit frothy. If doesn't froth, start again; if the yeast isn't activated at this point, something's probably wrong (water temperature, or the age of the yeast?).
Once you have a foamy, frothy, active yeast slurry, its time to start forming the dough. Place the slurry in the bottom of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Measure out the dry ingredients as accurately as you can - by weight if possible. If measuring flour by volume, scoop a full cup out, and level off with the back of a knife; don't tap the cup to compact the flour or you'll end up with too much. Add the flour and salt to the slurry and mix until the dough starts to come together.
Now comes the kneading. If you have a standing mixer or a breadmaker, you're in luck; the machine will do it all for you! Set the speed to low, and let it go for 10 minutes. If you don't have a standing mixer or breadmaker, then you're going to get a great arm workout! Turn the dough onto a floured benchtop or board and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, elastic, and springs back when gently prodded with a finger. Don't give up until the full 10 minutes is up!
Once you have a smooth, soft, elastic dough, place the dough back into the bowl and set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise. You want to avoid any cold draughts or the top of the dough drying out, so it pays to cover the top of the bowl with glad wrap, or to pop a plastic supermarket bag over the whole thing. This also helps create a 'greenhouse' effect, which will help your rising. Set the dough aside in a warm place for as long as it takes for the dough at least double in size. An hour in a hot water cupboard should do it, but you could also put the bowl in an oven with only the light on.
Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down the dough. That's right, give the whole thing one, good sucker punch to the centre. This will cause the dough to start to collapse on itself. Pull the dough out of the bowl, and split it into to two roughly equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a long oval approx 1cm thick, and set onto a lightly floured baking tray.
Turn the oven on, and heat to 200 C. Pop the egg into a bowl, and add a quarter cup of cold water. Whisk the two together until completely combined. Prick the loaves all over with a bamboo skewer, and brush all over with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Top with a generous sprinkling of nigella seeds and salt, and set aside for 15 minutes to rise slightly.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown all over. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before digging in.